The worst mass shooting in the United States occurred in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning around 2:00 am, leaving 49 people dead and 53 injured. According to American news sources, this criminal act has been tied to terrorism, because the shooter reportedly called 9-1-1 during his rampage to declare his allegiance to ISIS. The tragedy, which was described by authorities as a hate crime against the LGBT community, has renewed vigorous debate on gun control laws as well as global terrorism. But for the most part, the international community has responded with messages of compassion, sympathy and support to the traumatized people of Orlando, Florida.
American President Barack Obama and the Presidential candidates all weighed in with sympathetic messages and Tweets. Pope Francis reacted in “horror” to the massacre. Queen Elizabeth of England released a statement of sympathy on Sunday afternoon, and the country’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated he was “horrified” when he heard about the tragedy. As the shooting occurred in a LGBT night club, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed “solidarity” with the LBGT community. Also joining the global chorus of world leaders were President Donald Tusk of the European Council, Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek of Turkey and Prime Minister Lars L Rasmussen of Denmark.
Taiwan’s President Tsai, Ing-wen (蔡英文) echoed the sentiments of other world leaders by expressing her sentiments in the official response from the Presidential Office of the Republic of China.
The spokesman of the Office of President of the R.O.C., Mr. Alex Huang (黃重諺), said on Monday that “President Tsai is deeply concerned over the deadly terror attack in Orlando, Florida, USA. Ms. Tsai has directed the Secretary General of the National Security Council, Mr. Wu Zhao-xie (吳釗燮), to express our concern to the Director of American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Mr. Kin W. Moy (梅健華).” Mr. Huang added that, “In addition to her condemnation of violent terrorism, Mr. Wu will also communicate President Tsai’s condolences to the U.S. government to mourn victims and their families.”
Tainan City Mayor, William Lai (賴清德) stated in a letter to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, “On behalf of the two million citizens of Tainan, Taiwan, I extend our deepest condolences to the victims and their families who lost loved ones in the terrorist attack on your city. We are shocked and saddened by these cruel acts of terrorism and condemn all violence. Orlando has been our Sister City since 1982, and we care deeply about the safety and well-being of your people. I now write to assure you that Tainan will stand with Orlando through this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. We wish that the deceased may rest in peace, that the bereaved may be comforted, and that wisdom, courage, and strength be given to us all as we stand together, ready to protect peace and human rights.”
Orlando, Florida, known as the tourism capital of the USA, has a special connection to Taiwan. Orlando, Florida became the Sister City of Tainan City, Taiwan on June 24, 1982. This longstanding relationship has been valued by the Mayors of both cities. A striking similarity can be seen as the Orlando Mayor has led his stunned community through this crisis, as did the Tainan City Mayor during the deadly earthquake of February 5, 2016.